East beats West as Big Pharma shifts R&D efforts

With some of Big Pharma's top products losing exclusivity or facing fresh competition in the West, the new R&D game in the global drug industry is being played in Asia.

Some of the biggest players have sunk a billion dollars into R&D facilities in the East--most notably China--as they begin to develop a new generation of therapies tailored for a market expected to grow at a rapid clip for years to come. And some, like Bayer AG, are cutting jobs in the U.S. and Europe as they shift focus and development strategies, notes a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal.

Every one of the recent arrivals in China is pursuing its own particular strategy. For Pfizer ($PFE) the new market inspired an ambitious effort to develop an anti-inflammatory compound into a new therapy for hepatitis B, a common ailment in China and other Asian nations. J&J, meanwhile, teamed with Tsinghua University to launch a raft of early-stage studies on hep B, TB and bird flu. Preferring to let local players lead the way, Bristol-Myers Squib ($BMS) licensed out a promising cancer compound to Simcere, letting the Asian company handle the initial R&D work through mid-stage studies.

"We're learning from others in other countries," Jeremy Levin, who's in charge of transactions at BMS, tells the WSJ.

- here's the article from the Wall Street Journal

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